This is a fun blog, so just roll with it! We have just returned from 2 weeks in Italy, and it is hard to miss the mountains of gelato sold in every city or town we visited. But how do you choose the best type of gelato?
Gelato is Italian for ice-cream, but the ingredients and texture are not the same. I will explain a little more about the nutritional information below. Basically, gelato has less fat than ice-cream so the delicious dessert melts faster in the mouth and this intensifies the flavor. There is also less air and no water added to the dessert so it is tastier. Artisan gelato will be slow churned, and often stored in covered, circular containers. In Italy you will see many gelato tubs piled high with huge waves of creamy dessert. The waves may look pretty, but they have usually been whipped and air has been added; that is how ice cream is made, more water and air.
Ice cream is designed for long-term storage, that’s why it is best kept below -18 degrees Celsius, frozen. Whereas Gelato is made fresh daily and frozen quickly in smaller batches for a fresher and superior product and stored at around -13 degrees Celsius. Reduce the fat and air and you taste the flavours more. Churn more slowly with less sugar and the creaminess comes through. To choose the right gelato, check it is stored in circular metal containers with lids on, has less intense bright colours, and is very soft…almost a cream texture.
This is a difficult one to research, but it is thought that the great tradition of gelato making started during the Italian Renaissance (14th century), by Buontalenti in Florence (Tuscany). Traditionally gelato is from northern Italy and sorbetto (no milk products, just water, sugar and fruit) from warmer southern Italy.
The price of gelato is similar throughout Italy, and in the main centres possibly a bit higher than the towns. For 2 scoops of gelato you will typically pay 2.50 Euro (we once paid 7 Euro, but this was a huge serving, more like 4 scoops). The best gelateria we found was in Florence, Santa Trinita, this shop had delicious creamy gelato, seating, air con, large scoops and a great variety of fresh flavours, like black sesame, mascarpone, and passion-fruit.
Typical ingredients in gelato are milk, sugar and fruit. Because gelato is made with milk it is higher in calcium than sorbetto. Italian law requires gelato to have minimum 3.5% butterfat. The nutritional analysis of 100 g (½ cup or 2 small scoops) is about 180 calories, 31 g carbohdyrate, 2g protein and 4 g fat.